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Related stories: InlandPolitics: S.B. County: Campaign finance violations

Saturday, February 1, 2014 – 04:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 3, 2014 – 07:15 p.m.

[Violation List Modified to add Supervisor James C. Ramos for a 2/2013 contribution by Majestic Realty]

San Bernardino County’s campaign finance ordinance must have been meant as a cocktail party joke.

Further review of filings made late Friday evening reveals that five, out of eight, county-level elected officials took campaign contributions over the limit allowed by law.

A total of 15 violations were identified. All misdemeanors under current law.

The maximum allowable contribution per cycle, in 2013, was $4,100. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors is currently engaged in an attempt to alter existing law to retroactively forgive the violations listed below.

Here’s the current law affecting San Bernardino County campaign contribution limits, and the penalties for violation of such:

§ 12.4305 Contribution Limit.

 

(a) Limit on Contributions to a Candidate or a Candidate’s Controlled Committee. A person may not make to a candidate or the candidate’s controlled committee, and a candidate or the candidate’s controlled committee may not accept from a person, any contribution totaling more than the per election amount permitted in Government Code § 85301(a), as adjusted by the Fair Political Practices Commission pursuant to California Code of Regulations title 2, section 18544, effective on January 1, 2013, and on January 1 of each odd-numbered year thereafter. Each primary, general, special, and recall election is a separate election for purposes of this Chapter.

 

(b) Election Cycles. For purposes of the contribution limit and reporting and disclosure requirements of this Chapter, if there is a primary election and general election, then contributions made at any time from the date a candidate may commence receiving contributions under the law to the day before the primary election shall be considered primary election contributions, and contributions made on the date of the primary election through 90 days after the general election shall be considered general election contributions. If there is no general election, then contributions made through 90 days after the primary election shall be considered primary election contributions.

§ 12.4307 Aggregation of Contributions.

 

(a) For purposes of the contribution limit and reporting requirements of this Chapter, the contributions from certain combinations of individuals and entities must be added together to determine the total amount that will be treated as made by, and received from, a single contributor. Such aggregated amount shall not exceed the contribution limit established under § 12.4305.

 

(b) Contributions of an Entity Treated as Contributions of an Individual.

 

(1) The contributions of an entity whose contributions are directed and controlled by an individual shall also be treated as the contributions of the individual.

 

(2) The contributions of an entity whose contributions are directed and controlled by two or more individuals shall also be treated as the contributions, on a pro rata basis, of the individuals.

 

(3) The contributions of an entity that is majority-owned by an individual shall also be treated as the contributions of the individual, unless the entity acts independently in its decision to make the contributions.

 

(c) Contributions of an Entity Treated as Contributions of Another Entity.

 

(1) The contributions of an entity whose contributions are directed and controlled by an individual shall also be treated as the contributions of any other entity whose contributions are directed and controlled by the same individual.

 

(2) The contributions of an entity whose contributions are directed and controlled by a majority of persons shall also be treated as the contributions of all other entities whose contributions are directed and controlled by the same majority of persons.

 

(3) The contributions of an entity that is majority-owned by a person shall also be treated as the contributions of all other entities majority owned by the same person, unless the entity acts independently in its decision to make the contributions.

 

(Ord. 4184, passed – -2012)

§ 12.4314 Violations and Enforcement – Criminal.

 

(a) Any person who knowingly or willfully violates any provision of this Chapter, who purposely causes any other person to violate any provision of this Chapter, or who aids and abets any other person in the violation of any provision of this Chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

 

(b) In addition to any other penalties provided by this Chapter or the County Code or law, a fine of up to the three times the amount the person failed to report properly or unlawfully contributed, expended, gave, or received, or $10,000.00, whichever is greater, may be imposed upon conviction for each violation.

 

(c) A plea of nolo contendere shall be deemed a conviction for purposes of this Section.

 

(Ord. 4184, passed – -2012)

§ 12.4315 Violations and Enforcement – Civil.

 

(a) Any person who violates any provision of this Chapter, who purposely causes any other person to violate any provision of this Chapter, or who aids and abets any other person in the violation of any provision of this Chapter, shall be subject to, in addition to any other penalties provided by this Chapter or the County Code or law, a civil penalty of up to three times the amount the person failed to report properly or unlawfully contributed, expended, gave, or received, or $1,000.00, whichever is greater. Civil remedies also include injunctive or other equitable or declaratory relief.

 

(b) If two or more persons are responsible for any violation of any provision of this Chapter, then they shall be jointly and severally liable.

 

(c) The civil prosecutor is primarily responsible for enforcement of the civil penalties and remedies of this Chapter. The civil prosecutor shall be the Fair Political Practices Commission.

 

(d) Any person residing within the jurisdiction of the election may bring a civil action under this Section. Before filing such action, such person must first file with the civil prosecutor a written request for the civil prosecutor to commence the action, subject to procedures that comport with the procedures set forth in Government Code § 91007.

 

(e) No civil action may be filed with regard to a person for any violation of this Chapter after an administrative order has been issued against such person for the same violation.

 

(Ord. 4184, passed – -2012)

§ 12.4316 Violations and Enforcement – Administrative.

 

(a) Any person who, pursuant to an appropriate administrative action, is determined to have violated any provision of this Chapter, purposely caused any other person to violate any provision of this Chapter, or aided and abetted any other person in the violation of any provision of this Chapter, shall be subject to an administrative order requiring that the person to do all or any of the following:

 

(1) Cease and desist violation of the Chapter;

 

(2) File any reports, statements, or other documents or information required by the Chapter;

 

(3) Pay a monetary penalty of up to $5,000.00 per violation;

 

(b) If two or more persons are responsible for any violation of any provision of this Chapter, then they shall be jointly and severally liable.

 

(c) No administrative action brought alleging a violation of any provision of this Chapter shall be commenced more than five years after the date on which the violation occurred.

 

(Ord. 4184, passed – -2012)

The above information was downloaded from the website of the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

Under the guise of good government, County supervisors hired the agency to enforce the county’s campaign finance ordinance.

Well, the people at the agency, including the commissioners themselves, must be feeling a little foolish right about now.

Here’s the list of offenders:

Elected Official                    Donor                                 Cumulative
                                                                          Amount
                                                                          (Yr-2013)
Supervisor Robert Lovingood         Inland Empire Disposal Assn           $ 5,000
                                    Burrtec Waste Industries              $ 5,000
                                    Elbert W. Muncy, Jr.                  $ 5,750
                                    Brad Mitzelfelt for Assembly          $ 9,000
                                    San Bernardino Public Employees Assn. $ 5,700
                                    Heinz Steinman                        $ 5,000
                                    S.B. Co. Professional Firefighters    $10,000
Supervisor Janice Rutherford        Ronald Cunning                        $ 7,100
                                    Care Ambulance                        $ 5,100
Supervisor James C. Ramos           Majestic Realty                       $ 7,500
Supervisor Gary Ovitt               Mitzsubishi Cement                    $ 4,500
                                    Athens Services                       $ 4,400
                                    Sean O'Connor                         $ 4,500
                                    Ronald Cunning                        $ 6,000
                                    Care Ambulance                        $ 5,000
Sheriff-Coroner John McMahon        John Fogerty                          $ 4,300
                                    Mitzsubishi Cement                    $ 5,600